by Lilly Brogger, American Simmental Association
When Simmental genetics took a major turn, pushing for black, polled, smaller cattle, the semen of the “old school” bulls sat in tanks with less demand. Kevin Voltz has been around Simmental cattle his entire life. His parents began running them in the 70’s, and since that time, “new” genetics have not entered their herd. Voltz has been keeping an eye out for old semen for years, and now has a collection of 103 different herd sires.
His latest acquisition, Firn, ASA number 000008, came from a Craigslist find. Voltz periodically searches for semen on several sites including the online garage-sale style forum and came across a semen tank for sale. The details listed Angus, Maine and other breed semen in the tank and Kevin called to find out the complete details. The seller of the tank acquired it from a retired ABS representative and listed off the bulls. He finally got to a cane containing “SM” labeled straws, immediately piquing Voltz’ interest. The ASA registration number read “000008” which is the ASA number for Firn, the eighth Simmental animal ever registered. Kevin recently submitted DNA on the sample with plans of AI’ing some of his females.
Prior to finding semen for Firn, the oldest bull in his tank was Gallant, ASA number 000010, the tenth Simmental animal registered. He notes that while calving ease was an issue with older bulls, the bulls he has used haven’t presented many issues. The cows are fairly large enough framed (5.6 to 7.0 frame score), which lends to breeding to these older bulls.
Kevin keeps an impressive spreadsheet with information ranging from gestation length of his cows, to each EPD on bulls with semen in the tank. The spreadsheet also includes information on the heritage of each bull. For example, a cow may trace back to French and Swiss animals. This information goes back several years and offers a detailed perspective on the genetics he has saved.
Voltz points to the difficulty of acquiring historical information on these animals. A Google search typically doesn’t yield many results, so he keeps an eye out for magazines and other historical information in print. While the Simmental breed has changed tremendously over the last fifty years, collections like these have preserved the genetics that began the breed.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of the Register.